Devi Mahatmyam

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sitaraman ganesh sitaraman ganesh
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Devi Mahatmyam

Respected Sri Ravi,
Devi Mahatmyam starts with a question by the king and the  vysya to the Sage to know about Mahamaya. The sage responds by detailing about the valour of Devi who is Maya personified. She helps the Devas by vanqushing the asuras.
How does this explain what Mahamaya is?And how are we to understand the nature of Maya?
Pranams
Sitaraman
RAVI RAVI
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Re: Devi Mahatmyam

Lalitā Sahasranāma 215 is Mahā-māyā महा-माया. The interpretation of this nāma is given here.

Māyā means illusion.  She is known as mahā-māyā svarūpinī.  The entire universe functions on the basis of māyā or illusion.  If She does not cast Her effect of māyā on this world, there will no activity at all.  Her spell of māyā makes us to seek the Brahman, Her another form, prākaśa vimarśa mahā-māyā svarūpinī.  Even the sages and saints are no exception to Her spell of māyā.  The intensity of māyā is felt depending upon one’s karma.  The ‘hrīṁ (ह्रीं)’ bīja is called māyā bīja (please refer to the discussion on Pañcadaśī mantra).  

{Further reading on māyā:  In advaita philosophy (non-dualism) to some thinkers the terms māyā and avidyā mean the same thing. But some advaitins differentiate them and say that māyā is an auxiliary to Īśvarā and avidyā is an auxiliary to soul. The main function of māyā is projection, projecting the Brahman in various shapes and forms.  But avidyā can both obscure and project, but covering is the main function of avidyā. According to some, the substrate of avidyā is soul and according to some others, avidyā resides in the Brahman.

The root of māyā is mā which means ‘to measure’. The infinite Brahman appears as if measured due to the effect of māyā. The root mā also means, leading to the ideal of illusionary appearance.  The word māyā can be split into mā + yā.  Then it means that which is not, but appears to be.
Māyā is regarded as Śaktī, the attribute of the Brahman.  Brahman is essentially without attributes and is known as nirguṇa Brahman.  But viewed in relation to māyā, it is saguṇa Brahman or with attributes.  Just as a magician conjures up many things by his magical power which he really does not possess, so Brahman with māyā śaktī projects the appearance of the world.  As things conjured up by the magician are false, so the projected world is ultimately false.  

The phenomenal world is mere illusion or māyā.  It is in reality non-existent. It appears to exist only because of the external objects that are related in the self, behind the mind.  It is nothing but a mere illusory projection of ātman.}
RAVI
RAVI RAVI
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Re: Devi Mahatmyam

Similarly, Lalitā Sahasranāma 716 is Māyā माया. This nāma is interpreted like this:

She is māyā.  Māyā is illusion. The root of māyā is ma.  Ma means ‘to measure’. It also means ‘leading to the idea of illusion’.  Brahman is immeasurable but due to the influence of māyā, Brahman appears to be measurable.  In other words, Brahman is beyond time and space but due to the influence of māyā Brahman appears as if bound by time and space.  For easier understanding, Brahman is said to have two aspects – saguṇa (with attributes) and nirguṇa (without attributes).  Nirguṇa Brahman in conjunction with māyā becomes saguṇa Brahman.  The appearance of the universe is due to the projection by māyā.  

From the point of view of Vedānta consciousness is the subtlest of all existents.  Pure consciousness is the basis of varied existence of the universe.  All these variations are due to the superimposition of names and forms by māyā which is the principle of appearance that is neither real nor unreal.  The Self-illuminating Brahman which is pure and limitless consciousness manifests as manifold souls in living organisms.  The manifestation of the Brahman is noticeable only in the living beings, whereas it stands hidden in non-livings.  In the case of human beings, the pure and limitless consciousness manifest as self with independent mind.  Māyā is a mystery of omnipresent power that works like a supreme faculty of self- transformation.   It appears in the form of deceptive masks producing only illusionary effects.  Māyā covers the Brahman that exists in all beings in this universe.  This covering is like a sheath or a veil.  Unless this veil is removed, the Brahman cannot be realized.  For removing this veil, knowledge is required.  As long as the veil continues to remain, one continues to remain ignorant (avidyā). Macro-cosmic reflection of the Brahman is māyā.  

Śiva is the Brahman and Śaktī is māyā.  Unless, Śaktī clears the path, Śiva cannot be realized and it is only Śaktī, who is capable of revealing Śiva.  She reveals Śiva only if impurities of physical bodies, subtle bodies and casual bodies are totally removed.  Hence, Śaktī worship is considered as important.  
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gīta (VII.14) “For this most wonderful māyā of Mine, consisting of three guṇa-s (sattva, rajas and tamas), is extremely difficult to break through.  Those who constantly adore me are able to cross it.”  Lalitāmbikā - Viṣṇu relationship has been personified in several nāma-s of this Sahasranāma (nāma-s 280, 339, 893)  
RAVI